How many times have you heard yourself saying the words: ‘I would, but I just don’t have the time…’; or ‘If only (insert excuse here) hadn’t happened, then I would have the time…’; or ‘I just need one hour to myself and then I would actually get going on…’
I have heard myself say these things all too often. And I have heard most people I know say exactly the same things as well. It is so easy to find excuses for why we haven’t started that book we’ve been dreaming of writing, or applied for that job, or seen our friends, or taken ourself for a walk or to the gym. Time is an easy scapegoat. Time doesn’t fight back, it doesn’t try to shift the blame or make us feel guilty for doing so. Time allows us to constantly find a reason as to why we haven’t achieved what we wanted to achieve.
BUT it isn’t actually times fault!
Having spent the beginning of this year claiming I had no time because my dog lost her eye; because I had started a nutrition course alongside work; because I had to clean the house. I suddenly had to make time, in light of an impending exam. The excuses I had been using as to why I hadn’t yet started revising starting becoming weak and a bit lame. I was forced to prioritise, putting revision first and only the most important jobs second. Suddenly, I realised, I had gone from doing no revision at all, to fitting in 3-4 hours a day and I still found time to reply to emails, get to class and do all the other bits in between! Yes, some tasks went on the back burner but these weren’t a priority and guess what, it didn’t all fall apart by putting them on hold for a month!
It was then that I realised I needed to take charge of my own time.
When I had this small epiphany, I started to reflect and evaluate my approach to time in the previous months. I began to realised just how detrimental my own mindset had been, not only to my studying but also to my life in general. What if I constantly made excuses when anything I wished to achieve came around? Where would I get in life if I constantly blamed time? Not very far is the answer.
I realised I needed to start accepting responsibility for my own actions and my own management of time. If I can go from finding no time to revise in a day, to suddenly finding 4 hours then something is clearly not adding up!
So, what did I do?
- I made myself a good, old fashioned school timetable but for my life! When you are held accountable for your own time management you realise how much time you waste procrastinating and doing nothing! Not that we should have time to sit and aimlessly scroll through Instagram, or just stare off into the distance! But the danger is when it starts to take over more important tasks rather than being used as a tool to switch off.
- 2. PRIORITISE! I have really started to prioritise my jobs during the day. I have always been a keen writer of ‘To-Do Lists’ but rather than getting obsessed with ticking off all the easy small tasks (so I feel like I have done loads), I have started putting things in order of priority. For example, rather than replying to every single work email, I will reply to the 5 most pressing questions and then put the rest aside whilst I plan a workshop. Your world will not fall apart if you take over a day to respond to an email or a text, people will move on and overall, isn’t it better that people don’t always expect an instant reply? It gives you more freedom to breathe and work in future.
- 3. Take a break! There is always time for a break, even if it is just 5 minutes. Having a moment just to sit on the sofa in silence, or file your nails, or walk around the garden – ANYTHING! Taking a moment just to unwind and switch off is so important to your productivity. If we constantly dash around trying to fix everything we come across we will burn out and it stops our creative juices flowing. I now have at least 1 hour everyday in my calendar which reminds me to take a walk, go to a yoga class, or just sit and watch TV. Finding time not only to work but to also just be are equally important. The latter perhaps even more so…
Finding time does not have to be a huge challenge, you just need some self discipline and positive thinking. There will always be something to do and fill our time with but we need to make the choice as to what is actually worth our time.
Try to reflect on how you treat time today? Do you blame time continuously? Do you run around like a headless chicken without giving yourself a second to rest? How can you change this?
Try writing yourself a little timetable, or a To-Do List. Try giving yourself just 5 minutes to sit and relax. And notice the difference these small changes can make.